Best known as a summertime fruit, peaches (Prunus persica L.) can be a juicy and healthful snack. Healthy "extras" like fresh fruit and vegetables can constitute up to 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake. Read on to learn more about the nutrients that your pet may obtain from peaches and what you need to keep in mind when giving them this fruit as a snack.
Quick Facts on Peaches
Peaches are believed to have existed even before humans did.1 However, its earliest recorded use dates back to 8000 B.P. in China, where they were considered an important fruit that symbolizes immortality in Daoist mythology2 and love in feng shui.3 Nowadays, peaches remain one of the most popular stone fruits, best enjoyed during the summer as a juicy snack.4
Over the years, pet parents have also started sharing peaches with their animal companions, letting them enjoy not just its juicy goodness but also its beneficial nutritional content. Peaches come in white and yellow varieties, with a fuzzy surface that can be easily removed by rubbing the fruit with a paper towel. In this article, we'll discuss the nutritional content of yellow peaches (the most common type).5
While peaches are generally safe for pets, some pet parents worry about their pit or stone, which can be a choking hazard. The pit also contains amygdalin, a sugar-cyanide compound that can be toxic to your pet when consumed in high amounts.6 The good news is that your small pet would have to consume multiple peach pits for them to be affected. Obviously it's important to remove the pit prior to offering peach slices to your dog.
Amygdalin is also found in the leaves and stems of the peach tree, so if you have one in your garden, be sure to keep your pet away from it.7
Peaches Are an Excellent Source of Bioactive Compounds
Although dogs are scavenging carnivores, they may still enjoy consuming a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, including peaches. Peaches contain phytonutrients, flavonoids and antioxidants that are readily passed up the food chain. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences identified a variety of phenolic compounds with antioxidant capacity in peaches and found that the predominant compounds are chlorogenic acid and catechins. These antioxidants may help protect your pet's cells against free radicals that can cause chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.8
Chlorogenic acid has also been found to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antilipidemic and antidiabetic properties.9,10 Moreover, an animal study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal showed that chlorogenic acid may contribute to lower levels of insulin, plasma leptin, triglycerides and cholesterol, while also helping decrease body weight and visceral fat mass.11
Another study published in the journal Molecules stated that chlorogenic acid has "beneficial effects against diabetes in animals regarding blood glucose levels, lipid metabolism, cataracts, and wound-healing."12 Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin found in peaches,13 has also been found to exhibit neuroprotective effects in animal studies, which may help lower your pet's risk for cognitive dysfunction.14
Peaches Give Your Pet These Beneficial Vitamins
The flesh of a peach fruit contains health-promoting vitamins, particularly vitamins A and C. One tablespoon serving of peaches contains 1.53 micrograms of vitamin A,15 a nutrient that may help support your pet's eye health, bone growth, immune response and reproductive system.16
Meanwhile, your pet may get 0.625 milligrams of vitamin C per 1-tablepoon serving of peaches.17 This vitamin may help scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS), protecting your pet's DNA, proteins and lipids against oxidative damage.18
Dietary Fiber in Peaches May Be Good for Pets
Peaches also provide your pet your pet 0.14 grams of dietary fiber per 1-tablespoon serving.19 Fiber plays an important role in your pet's digestive process. It helps keep their gut microbiome healthy, which in turn helps optimize their immune health.20
How to Safely Offer Peaches to Your Pet
As mentioned above, peaches should be pitted before being fed to your pet. Whole peaches can be a choking hazard, with a pit that has an abrasive surface that may irritate your pet's digestive tract, if swallowed.
If you're going to let your pet snack on peaches, make sure that you give it to them in small cut-up pieces. You should also avoid feeding them canned or preserved peaches, as they usually contain preservatives and are high in sugar.21,22 Keep in mind that fresh fruits are simply "extras" in your pet's nutritionally balanced diet, hence you should limit the serving size within 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake.
Choose Organic Peaches for Your Pets
Peaches are included in the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) 2020 Dirty Dozen list,23 so make sure you shop smart when buying peaches.
To lower your pet's exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals in conventionally grown peach fruits, always choose organic. Buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers, so you'll be able to ask them directly about the agricultural practices they use for growing their crops.